Modular, Erector-like camper van slides easily between work and play
Even when you're out living the #vanlife, life isn't merely a camping trip. Which is why we're seeing more and more camper vans designed to keep up with the multi-headed beast that is daily living. Missouri-based VanDoIt offers some of the most versatile custom vans we've seen, using T-track, slide-outs, hydraulic-lift beds and indoor/outdoor kitchen hardware to make for easy transitioning between camping, working, passenger hauling, adventuring and more. Its vans are for those who want to live the van life to the fullest but still need to check in with reality on a regular basis.
VanDoIt spun off from Kline Van/Woody's Automotive Group last year with a mission to grab a piece of the van life pie by building custom vans for outdoorsy and adventurous types. Its vans are versatile enough for all kinds of van trippers, but they seem best for the bicycle racer, surfer, skier or climber who wants to drag all his or her gear out to the action and spend a few days enjoying Mother Nature's finest.
As with other modular van builders, like TerraCamper, the foundation of the VanDoIt van is its mounting track. But VanDoIt takes things to another level, securing T-track all over – on the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the furniture frames, the storage compartments, and beyond. Using this track, customers can quickly install and remove camper furniture, rear seats, gear racks and mounts, cargo nets, and other equipment and storage solutions, making it easy to go from a fully equipped camper van, to an empty cargo van, to a sports equipment carrier, to a seven-seat people mover, or anything in between.
"It's a grid system of the track," explains Brent Kline, VanDoIt's president and CEO. "Everything's made of it, and you've got it running in multiple directions. It gives you almost unlimited abilities to create whatever you need to haul whatever toys or gear you're hauling."
Another helpful storage component of the VanDoIt conversion, the gear slide secures bikes, boards, camping gear, work tools, supplies, or whatever else you need to haul, sliding its way through the double rear doors for easy access. The slide is, of course, framed out and covered in T-track, helping you secure down your cargo. It can hold up to 750 lb (340 kg), and you can even drop a mattress on top, creating a pair of bunk beds in combination with the upper bed frame (also made out of T-track). The upper bed uses a hydraulic lift system to adjust up and down around cargo and sleeping campers.
The T-track-framed furniture and diamond-plate commercial flooring don't necessarily add up to the softest, warmest camper cabin you've ever seen, but VanDoIt focuses on marine-grade durability above all else. It wants its vans to last, through the thick and thin of muddy boots, dusty bikes, snow-crusted skis, dripping wet surfboards, and other odds and ends coming and going from inside the cabin.
"A lot of conversion vans have a lot of wood in them," Kline says. "Even though I think wood's pretty, functionally it swells, it shrinks, it discolors, it warps, it's not good with water and sun. Everything including our flat surfaces are marine-grade and have drainage ports – you could literally take a shower in that van."
To make it a little more like home, VanDoIt has a removable kitchen with integrated dual-burner/sink with lid, Dometic fridge, and fresh and gray water tanks with running water hardware. Buyers can also add a microwave. The kitchen block can be used inside the van, where it's mounted to the floor in place of seating, or connected to the outside hookup for open-air camp cooking.
An off-grid electrical package keeps the refrigerator humming, the water pump flowing, and the entertainment system buzzing, among other things. The package includes 320 watts of solar panels, three deep-cycle batteries, and an inverter/charger. In addition to the solar panels, the batteries can charge via shore power connection or from the vehicle's engine, giving you plenty of versatility in remaining powered up. The electrical system is also e-bike friendly, so you can charge your electric bike battery from the van, before getting out there and exploring tracks and trails too narrow for a lumbering van.
At camp, some will be perfectly happy staring into the campfire and starry skies, while others might go crazy missing their favorite shows. For the latter group, VanDoIt has an extensive entertainment range. The 32-in flat-panel TV mounts at three prewired locations: inside the front of the van, at the sliding side door, or in back wired to JL Audio marine speakers. Electrical and entertainment equipment comes packaged neatly in an "entertainment box" that includes a solar/electrical command center, Dish Network box, Blu-ray player, Xbox, power storage and audio/PA system.
Other VanDoIt offerings include air conditioning and heating, various roof racks, auxiliary LED lighting, a removable toilet, an onboard air compressor, and a 4x4 system from Quigley.
When the road trip ends and everyday life starts back up, all that camper and adventure equipment comes out to leave you with an everyday driver for carrying the family around or bringing supplies to and from the job site. VanDoIt builds a vehicle that's meant to be driven 365 days a year, not just for sporting day trips or camping overnighters.
"It isn't just a camper van," Kline promises. "It's designed to be a primary vehicle first. It's very convertible back and forth, and it's not hard to convert it. It can be the vehicle you drive everyday – you don't have to have a lot of money invested in another vehicle."
Custom-built camper and adventure vans tend to come with custom-designated prices, and the VanDoIt van and its long list of available equipment is no different. But as a helpful baseline, Kline explains that VanDoIt's "preferred equipment package" costs US$68,000, including van. This package starts with a mid-roof Ford Transit with 275-hp (205-kW) 3.7-liter V6 and comes with the most popular conversion options, including configurable/removable seating for seven, the kitchen, the gear slide, the off-grid electrical package, the TV and entertainment system, the hydraulic-lift bed and cabinetry.
Customers looking for a cheaper buy-in can opt for a low-roof Transit with a simpler equipment package for as low as $48,000, and those who want to go above and beyond can work up to $79,000 or so with VanDoIt-based equipment options, or even higher with third-party equipment.
Kline is careful to note that those prices are an extension of VanDoIt's "industry promoter pricing," which was developed for industry customers and later extended to everyone. In other words, it's limited time pricing that is likely to increase in the near future.
VanDoIt is currently tooled to work primarily with Ford Transit vans. It can also upfit other vans, such as the Mercedes Sprinter, Nissan NV or Ram Promaster, but those conversions will take longer. The company plans to expand its capabilities around other vans in the future.